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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 8 April, 2003, 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK
US civil agency enters Iraq
US Navy Seabees working with Iraqis to rebuild Umm Qasr
The US Navy is working with local Iraqis to rebuild Umm Qasr
Officials from the agency set up by the Americans to run post-war Iraq have started work in the impoverished southern port of Umm Qasr.

They are led by former US General Buck Walters, one of three American envoys who will oversee the reconstruction of Iraq by administering three regions - northern, central and southern.

Mr Walters said on arrival in Umm Qasr that his team would work to provide schools, jobs, running water and health care.

The BBC's Jennifer Glass in Umm Qasr says the port needs all of these things and the new team must try to fill the gap left by the embattled Iraqi Government.

Mr Walters is a senior manager in the US Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), headed by former US General Jay Garner.

It is expected to prepare for an interim Iraqi authority to run the country, along with overseeing Iraq's physical reconstruction and the distribution of humanitarian aid.

ORHA chief retired US General Jay Garner
Coalition forces maintain security while a sub-Pentagon department controls infrastructure and aid
Formation of a broad-based, multi-ethnic interim Iraqi administration
Eventual move to an Iraqi government

ORHA plans to appoint US civilian advisers to head Iraqi ministries and agencies.

Several dozen officials moved with Mr Walters from Kuwait to Umm Qasr, which will serve as their initial base.

The BBC's Middle East analyst, Roger Hardy, says ORHA has always been a secretive body, and even now its spokesmen remain tight-lipped.

US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said on Sunday it would take more than six months for an Iraqi government to be created to run the country once Saddam Hussein was defeated.

Mr Garner will report to the commander of US-led forces in Iraq, General Tommy Franks.

President George W Bush has said the UN will play a role in all aspects of post-war Iraq, from humanitarian aid to a future interim authority.

The interim authority will rule until a new government can be elected by the Iraqi people, Mr Bush said at his Belfast summit with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The BBC's Roger Hardy says many people think humanitarian work should be in the hands of civilians, not the Pentagon.

Many people also think the UN, rather than the US, should oversee the creation of the interim authority - which will otherwise lack legitimacy.

And, he adds, many suspect the Pentagon is favouring its own Iraqi proteges - notably the controversial opposition figure, Ahmad Chalabi.

The BBC's Bridget Kendall
"The main argument is over who runs Iraq's reconstruction in the long-term"

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